Season Two (7 February–6 April 2013) tests the relationship between magic, power and resistance and their connection to the modern State, whilst reflecting on notions of history and its revision, collective memory and national identity.
Currently on view is The Magic of the State, an exhibition and editorial project conceived by Beirut in Cairo and Lisson Gallery in London. The exhibition is a collaboration and encounter between two contrasting art institutions operating in very different contexts: a not-for-profit art space in the making and an established private gallery. This practice-based exchange opens up a shared space for reflections on the different economic, logistical, social and political realities these institutions live.
The project is titled after anthropologist Michael Taussig‘s eponymous book from 1997. Historically placed at the intersection of science, religion and politics, the concept of magic exists in an integral relationship to that of power. Magic’s coerciveness lies in its power to transform, simultaneously holding together the desire to believe and the desire to doubt. Here, politics and magic, statecraft and stagecraft, converge as performance.
Two discrete yet interconnected exhibitions in Cairo (3 March–6 April) and London (27 March–4 May) feature a different constellation of works by the same artists, including new commissions, and a public program of performances, talks and screenings.
The selected and newly commissioned works by Ryan Gander, Goldin+Senneby, Rana Hamadeh, Anja Kirschner and David Panos, Liz Magic Laser, Christodoulos Panayiotou and Lili Reynaud-Dewar question the legacy of outmoded systems of beliefs and mythological principles within the modern State, pointing to the slippage between the prescriptive intent and the idiosyncratic manifestations of stately power. They chart the potential of alternative aggregations, and explore the possibility of resistance by thinking laterally and looking at unorthodox places.
In March, Beirut hosts artist Anja Kirschner, conducting research on the history of Egyptian horror movies and the way they could be seen to reflect major political events, externalising social and personal trauma through the “supernatural.”
In April, theatre director Laila Soliman will present her forthcoming project Here, there and everywhere/Hopes, a performative research looking into what is said about State Security Systems between myth and reality in Rabat, Cairo and Berlin.
Beirut is an art initiative and exhibition space that considers institution building as a curatorial act. It is founded on the belief that change first needs to be imagined in order to be achieved. The year at Beirut is conceived in three seasons, each comprising a series of exhibitions, seminars, workshops, rotational studio and research projects, in addition to talks, screenings and publications. Beirut’s facilities are open to a local and international public, including library, communal workspace and rooms with a view over Beirut for visiting artists, curators and writers.